How can you use insight from businesses to improve upcoming events and conferences?

The events industry faces a number of challenges. With the ongoing development of technology, it seems more difficult than ever to make a compelling argument for potential delegates to part with their money, give up their time and travel to your latest event. Once coveted insights are now available at the click of a mouse. Webinars, video presentations and live streaming mean that people do not always feel it necessary to attend events in person, and they have begun to forgo traditional methods of networking in favour of connecting via LinkedIn and other online platforms.

So, what is the answer?

The solution is to make sure your event has genuine value to attendees, and to communicate that message effectively. Easier said than done, but audience insight can help –  asking your customers what would add value, what they want to know, how much they are willing to pay, and so on. By discovering what motivates potential delegates to show up for an event, you are more likely to be able to provide them with the best possible reasons to do so.

Many conferences and events are targeted at the corporate world, making companies and business owners an obvious source of potential insight within the event marketing space. Speaking directly to business owners will give you the answers you need to build a more compelling event.

IFF’s Business Spotlight:

At IFF, we speak to 500 UK senior business decision-makers every month, asking them the questions you need answers to in a cost-effective way. As a conference or event organiser, access to this audience could be invaluable, providing you with the insight required to make your event genuinely stand out from the crowd.

We can work with you to develop questions that will deliver useful insight through Business Spotlight, a cost-effective monthly telephone survey to support organisations in their decision-making process. You can add your own specific questions before your next event – find out more by watching our video here.

For our schedule, rate card and FAQs, please visit our Business Spotlight page here. To find out more, please contact Alice:








Alice Large
Associate Director

What is an omnibus survey?

We all know that the findings from research allow us to make better decisions. Knowing more about the potential consequences of our choices reduces the risks involved, and makes us more likely to make better decisions, in order to create the most effective strategies, because they are based upon intelligence and insight.
The problem is that research takes time and costs money. For those working with tight budgets and limited resources, a significant investment isn’t always a feasible option, and yet the fact remains that research is still hugely beneficial. In this scenario, an omnibus survey is perhaps the perfect solution, as it provides a low-cost alternative to commissioning a bespoke survey.

Omnibus survey

An omnibus survey involves a research agency conducting a number of interviews with a specific target group on a regular basis. The survey is conducted on behalf of a number of different organisations, who each pay to join the survey, and add their own questions. This enables all of the participating organisations to share the cost of research overheads.
There are a number of different omnibus survey categories, each targeting different groups, so it is important you consider the audience involved before signing up. One of the most widely used omnibus surveys is a business omnibus. This surveys businesses and business owners, and is the perfect tool for anyone looking to gain a competitive advantage in the B2B space.

Business omnibus

There are many research agencies which provide different types of business omnibus, so you need to make sure you are choosing the right one to suit your needs. For instance, is it going to be a telephone survey that is more likely to deliver better quality results, or just an online panel that is less likely to do so? Can the research company provide details on sample design and quality? What support will you receive? Do they have a rate card?

>We have an FAQ document, which answers all of the most commonly asked questions we receive<

Once you have chosen a reputable research agency, you will need to look at the questions you want to ask your audience. Your research agency should help you with advice on how to structure your questions. The companies who see a real benefit from conducting research are those which ask the right questions in the right way, finding out real insights into what their customers need, so that they are then better informed about how to provide adequate solutions to meet these needs.

Competitive advantage

Here are a few suggestions about how you can use a business omnibus survey to support your decision-making process in order to gain a competitive advantage:

  • Business decision-making: Is uncertainty over Brexit going to affect business spending? Are businesses likely to spend less on marketing services over the next 6-12 months? How high is their confidence in the economic future and political stability? Are there any emerging areas of growth or interest?
  • New service: If you are a B2B service provider, you may want to ask businesses if they are happy with their current contractor. Is this service important to them? How much do they spend on a service like this? What would make them change provider? And when are they able to do so?
  • New product: If you are developing a B2B product, you may wish to find out what features and benefits are most important to your audience? Do they have the budget to invest in such a product? How much would they be willing to spend? What would make them more receptive to finding out more?
  • Marketing/PR: You may wish to measure awareness to a recent campaign. Or find out the response to key messages you are considering for future campaigns. Or be looking for ideas and angles to create interesting stories to share with the media.
  • Legislation/regulations: A government agency, membership body or association may wish to find out if businesses are aware of changes to legislation or regulations relating to the industry that they operate within, and what levels of support they have in terms of dealing with such changes. What support or additional information do they need to be able to comply?

Business Spotlight

Every month, IFF’s Business Spotlight surveys 500 business owners across the UK by telephone. You can find out more by watching our video here.

For our schedule, rate card and FAQs, please visit our Business Spotlight page here.

To find out more about, please contact Alice:








Alice Large
Associate Director

How can market research reduce commercial risk?

We have all faced difficult decisions in our professional lives. Should we launch a new product or service? Is now a good time to go ahead with that marketing strategy or PR campaign? How confident do you feel about investing in that large capital expenditure project?

To some degree, making decisions is left to gut feel, making outcomes unpredictable and providing us with little in the way of confidence that we will get the result we are looking for. For decisions of low importance, this is okay – but when the stakes are high and we are making choices that come at a significant cost to the business, or which may affect our corporate reputation (either as an organisation or as an individual), it is important that we mitigate that risk as much as possible. And even when we feel well-informed by the information we have to hand, it is often good practice to check its robustness via a credible third party.

So, what can be done to inform and improve decision making, and to provide safeguards against the consequences of making the wrong choices?

Unfortunately, none of us can completely predict the future or fully foresee the outcomes of our choices, no matter how good our planning processes, but decision making can be backed up by professional insights from trusted sources, such as via a reputable market research company. Investing in independent market data and third-party analysis demonstrates to others within your organisation that you have taken reasonable steps to predict the outcome of your decision, and safeguards you against any implicit or explicit accusation of taking an unnecessary or ill-informed risk.

How does commercial insight support the decision-making process?

  • Feedback on strategies and plans: Investing in robust feedback about a strategy or long-term plan can help you to avoid potential pitfalls – and it can lead to lots of fresh insights too that you might not have thought of. You will be assured of the validity of your plans, tactics and strategies by checking them out in advance with a sample of your target audience.
  • Keep abreast of rapid changes in today’s dynamic world: Decisions can be made that take into account how people feel about economic confidence or political uncertainty such as are affected by Brexit and a hung parliament, or environmental trends, social factors and corporate responsibility.
  • Develop content that your clients want to hear about: By speaking directly to your target audience, asking them what is important to them, you can tailor future content and thought leadership pieces.

Why then, with the clear advantages of an insight-led approach to decision making, do so many choose to go it alone?

  • Time: For some, deadlines and the need to act quickly trump the apparent luxury of comprehensive investigation, but this must be measured against the potential consequences of getting a decision wrong. In the long run, following best practice will often prove to be worth the wait, as it will enable you to improve your plans.
  • Cost: This is usually the main obstacle for those considering an investment in commercial insight. Commissioning a bespoke research product can be expensive, and the cost of doing so can often outweigh the perceived benefit, especially for smaller businesses.

Our solution:

With these obstacles in mind, we have developed Business Spotlight, a cost-effective monthly telephone survey to support business decision making. Every month, our business omnibus speaks to 500 business owners across the UK. You can add your questions about your next big commercial decision to our survey in a cost-effective way. You can find out more by watching our video here.

For our schedule, rate card and FAQs, please visit our Business Spotlight page here.

To enquiry about our next wave contact Alice:








Alice Large
Associate Director

What are the benefits of a telephone survey over an online panel when conducting business market research?

Survey research

There is a growing culture of impatience in the modern world. With the development of technology, communications and service standards across the world we are accustomed to getting what we want, when we want it – and why not?

If we can get the output we want now rather than later it makes perfect sense for us to do so, but what if the quality of the output is affected? This is often the case when it comes to research.

In recent years, the emergence of online panels as a quick and ‘cost-effective’ alternative to telephone survey research has seen increased pressure on turnaround and costs at the sacrifice of quality. In this blog, we discuss the benefits of telephone surveys over online panels when conducting business market research.

Telephone survey

As with any project, it is essential that you are speaking to the right people when conducting B2B market research. The reason online panels are able to turn around data more quickly than a telephone survey is because the respondents are pre-recruited to take part in regular rounds of research. Even if you control for characteristics such as size and sector, there is an unseen bias here – people who join online panels and regularly participate are different to the population at large. They are seasoned participants who are conditioned in the way surveys work – and they are taking part because they are being paid to do so. In the case of Business Spotlight, our business omnibus research solution, we guarantee fresh sample data on every wave. Besides, we still turn around results very quickly once the telephone survey stage in the process has been completed.

B2B market research

At IFF Research, we believe in being human first, and we feel that in removing the human element from proceedings you take away a key component of the process when it comes to B2B market research. A skilled telephone interviewer will be able to communicate in a way that puts respondents at ease, picking up information that may otherwise go overlooked or unnoticed.

Online Panels

There is a big difference between something being cost effective and something being cheap. Although a telephone survey will cost a bit more than an online panel, it offers far greater value for money in terms of the quality of output. The quality of output is essential when it comes to business market research, when the findings and insights will have a profound impact on the decision-making process when it comes to policy, planning and strategy.

Business Spotlight

Alice Large manages IFF’s Business Spotlight and is responsible for discussing briefs, establishing needs and agreeing budgets – if you would like to find out more about our business omnibus telephone surveys, please contact her to discuss your requirements in more detail. She will explain all the various options we offer to achieve your commercial goals.








Alice Large
Associate Director

What are the key factors to consider when conducting B2B market research on a small budget?

B2B Market Research

Assessing the opinions of businesses can be a difficult and costly exercise. The emergence of online research as a low-cost solution means that market data is now more accessible than ever before – but this often comes at the sacrifice of quality. To help you through the plethora of options available, we have identified several areas to consider when conducting B2B market research on a limited budget.

Sample design and audience quality

There are plenty of cheap, quick turnaround providers who will promise you the world but ultimately leave you short changed. When assessing the options, you will need to look at sample design and gauge the quality of the audience. Be cautious of online panels, which can be made up from individuals who are often paid to take part in research and are canvassed repeatedly by the same research company, which can mean they are likely to respond differently to the group you are trying to speak to.

Market research company: Who to choose?

Consider the market research company’s background, and look for endorsements from previous clients. Working with a team of skilled, enthusiastic and experienced researchers will help you frame questions in the most effective way, ensuring you get the answers you need. A detailed briefing session and questionnaire design with a trusted provider will usually be enough to get to the heart of what you are looking for.

Flexible data reporting

It’s important to think about how you will need to potentially present your findings to relevant stakeholders. Will it be senior decision-makers or clients and, if so, what is the best way to present this information? Are they analytical people who prefer hard data, or will they respond better to a research report explaining things in a bit more detail, supported by graphical materials to visually explain the data? All of this will have an impact on the time it will take to package your findings and the amount it is appropriate to pay for the work. Some agencies may not have the flexibility to offer alternative reporting solutions, so it is important that your needs in this respect are discussed upfront to avoid complications down the line.

Cost effective solutions: Business omnibus

We have developed Business Spotlight to solve the need for businesses looking for high quality research at an affordable price. IFF’s Business Spotlight is a business omnibus service – a business omnibus is a type of research tool which allows several organisations to ask their own questions within the same survey, providing them with reliable data in a more-cost effective way than investing in a fully bespoke survey.

Telephone survey

Unlike online panels, our business omnibus is a telephone survey, which means that the quality of data is more reliable. Business Spotlight helps organisations to access a representative sample of 500 senior people with decision-making authority from a wide cross-section of the UK business community. None of them are paid to take part, and we rarely speak to the same business on more than one occasion, so you can be sure that the results are unbiased in this respect.

Business Spotlight

Alice Large is responsible for discussing briefs, establishing needs and agreeing budgets – please contact her to discuss your research requirements in more detail. She will explain the options available to achieve your goals.








Alice Large
Associate Director

IFF explore whether UK regulations present an obstacle to business success

A report exploring businesses’ views on regulation in the UK has been published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The findings from this report were informed by work carried out by IFF Research in February and March 2016 as part of an ongoing biennial survey of 2,000 UK businesses.

Business opinion has been tracked for almost 10 years as part of this programme outlining which elements of regulation and the regulatory delivery are most burdensome to businesses and exploring where businesses get their advice on complying with regulation.

We have outlined some of the key information from the report below:

  • Half of businesses (49%) reported that they felt UK regulations presented an obstacle to business success (although this figure has gradually decreased over time).
  • Three-fifths (59%) agreed that the time taken to comply with regulation was a burden on their business.
  • The most important factor in encouraging businesses to comply with regulation is maintaining their reputation with customers.
  • On average, businesses spent £8,550 every year on external business agents to help them comply with regulation.
  • Their views of the Government’s approach to regulation were somewhat mixed
    – half (49%) agreed that they found the purpose of regulation clear.
    – only a third (35%) found most regulation to be fair and proportionate.
    – 19% felt that the Government consults well with business before introducing new regulation or changing existing regulation.

The full report and data can be accessed here: Link to full report

Reflecting on our values: Ensuring research makes a difference

Over the course of this blog series we have presented our organisational values, looking at how they apply to the research industry and thinking about how they are lived at IFF.

Last week we looked at the importance of people in the provision of research, and prior to that we discussed how impartially and integrity must remain at the forefront of thinking in the industry. This week we discuss what we believe lies at the heart of industry’s existence, the provision of answers that have impact, inspire change and truly make a difference.

How research makes a difference

We want our research to make a difference, whether this be results influencing government policy or companies making key strategic investment decisions based on the robust, reliable insight we provide. Even where findings confirm the current ‘direction of travel’, our results can ensure decisions and policy are justified by the evidence.

Neil Armstrong summed it up well when he said “Research is creating new knowledge”. In predicting, informing and influencing the future, research enables firms and policy makers to manage uncertainty and take informed next steps.

The influence of research

One area in which our work and the work of others in our industry has a clear influence is in policy development. Evidence is a vital component in the decision making process for Government especially where value for money needs to be proven: findings from research can justify investments in areas such as regulatory reform or changes to the benefits system. We provide some examples of how IFF’s work has made a difference below:

Apprenticeship and training levies

Over the last year we have been involved in a number of projects that have helped shape levy policy. A soon-to-be published report for BEIS/DfE has examined how medium and large employers plan to respond to the imminent apprenticeship levy (coming into effect in 2017), and has fed in to its still on-going development. Similarly, research for CITB assessing employer views on the likely impact of the apprenticeship levy alongside the existing CITB levy have been used in the organisation’s response to government highlighting the potential impact for the construction sector. These findings help provide the confidence necessary to implement changes and minimise risk.

Pregnancy and Maternity discrimination

Our study into Pregnancy and Maternity discrimination for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, involving over 3,000 interviews with recent mothers, and showing high proportions feeling poorly treated by their employer during pregnancy or whole on maternity leave, has led to calls for change in employer attitudes and behaviour, and more directly led to EHRC launching #PowertotheBump, a digital campaign to help young expectant and new mothers know their rights at work and have the confidence to stand up for them.

This type of research highlights issues that could otherwise go unnoticed and supports the case for change.

Business Omnibus

Research can also be crucial for businesses, and enables them to take informed ‘leaps of faith’ towards new markets, new products or to inform strategy. This is often the difference between success and failure, and we are always looking at new ways in which we can assist these types of organisations in planning for the future.

One offer we have developed in this area is our Business Omnibus. This ongoing survey of businesses helps those working in the B2B space and gives companies the opportunity to get the views and opinions of UK business owners. This gives businesses unprecedented access to their core customers and again enables intelligence-led decision making.

Anything that influences decision making impacts the world around us, but in our view it takes an independent outlook, integrity, motivated, skilled staff and an ambition to influence positive change and really make a difference.

How will UK businesses react to Brexit?

So, it has happened. We are now in a post-Brexit society. In the build up to the referendum the general attitude was one of uncertainty, of not knowing which way the UK would vote. Now the uncertainty is focused on how the referendum outcome is going to be implemented.

IFF Research’s business omnibus has been tracking the outlook of UK businesses in the buildup to the referendum and from the data we can see the impact of the Brexit. In December 2015, we can see that two in five businesses (42%) expected their financial position to improve over the coming year, falling to 38% in March 2016. As the political rhetoric increased, and the public became increasingly sensitized to the importance of the upcoming referendum, the uncertainty of the outcome has driven number of optimistic businesses down to a third 35%. See details below:



We now stand at one of the most unpredictable points in British history with so much ambiguity that it is almost difficult to comprehend. Gaining access to the views of UK businesses at this crucial time is of vital importance and you can do so by adding questions to the next wave of IFF’s Business Omnibus. Contact us below for details and watch this space for further information:

Call: 020 7250 3035


Brexit – What next for the UK?

The dust is still some way from settling after a dramatic night in UK politics. Contrary to the predictions of most pollsters, bookies, political commentators (and some IFF Directors…), the UK has voted to leave the European Union.

An unclear future

What we have now is a period of considerable uncertainty, but first let’s focus on what we do know – at least at the point of writing. The Prime Minister has handed in his notice, and we will have a new PM by October. It feels certain that whoever takes over will have been in favour of Brexit, and it is also certain that it will be the subject of much debate and speculation over the next few months. Indeed, the Conservative leadership competition threatens to distract from the practicalities of leaving the EU. We know that Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – which will trigger the start of the process – will not be invoked until there’s a new PM in place. However, little is known about what Brexit might look like in practice. Which EU legislation will we retain, and which will go? How will Brexit impact on the UK’s trading agreements – with the EU and beyond? And what of the devolved nations? Scotland voted strongly for Remain, and the SNP will surely push for another referendum on their future in the UK.

Forecasts and expectations

The Remain campaign focused heavily on the economy, predicting job losses and even recession. We won’t know how accurate those predictions are for some time but there will certainly be far-reaching implications for consumers and businesses. In the immediate term the uncertainty is already causing problems. We have seen big falls in the markets, and a huge devaluation of the Pound. If the latter continues, it may boost exports in the short-term, but imported goods will be more expensive. The resulting inflation may see the Bank of England – which has said it would take whatever decisive action necessary to support the UK economy through the transition – could move to increase interest rates, which would in turn have an impact for consumers and businesses looking to borrow.

Whatever happens next, politicians and civil servants face a tough challenge in the coming months. Many questions will need to be answered, and this will need to be achieved while maintaining a strong economy in a tumultuous political climate.

To Remain or to Brexit: Business opinion on a knife-edge

The latest wave of IFF’s Business Omnibus has revealed an increase in those against remaining part of the EU, meaning the businesses view is evenly balanced heading into the final weeks of campaigning.

With only three weeks to go until the referendum, the impact of EU membership on businesses continues to be at the centre of both campaigns.

IFF has been tracking the views of UK firms since August last year. Our latest survey shows that previously undecided businesses are swinging to Brexit, boosting the proportion of businesses who consider their future will be better served outside the EU to 35% – up from 26% two months ago.

As we have reported before, there is a notable difference between businesses of different sizes. Sole traders are more likely to adopt an anti-EU stance than all other businesses (39% vs 24%).

Businesses in favour of remaining in the EU cite concerns around instability as their principle reasoning (34% give this as a reason), while those preferring to leave are most likely to mention loss of sovereignty to Brussels (57%).


With business decision-makers climbing off the fence, it raises the question as to whether this trend will continue among those who have yet to make a decision. One thing is clear from our analysis – once a decision is made, business decision-makers don’t tend to change their minds: 85% of those with a view on the EU say that they have not changed their opinion in the last 6 months.

Meanwhile, the divide in the Cabinet over Europe does not appear to have had a negative impact on either the Leave campaign or the party image with businesses; 38% advocate the Conservatives as the best party for businesses like theirs, around the same as in March (35%).

With public and business opinion finely balanced as we enter the final weeks, we will eagerly await the outcome on 23rd June.

The future of the Business Omnibus….

IFF’s Business Omnibus is a bi-monthly survey of UK Businesses and you can add your own bespoke questions to our next wave for as little as £500 per question. Joining the Business Omnibus is a simple and cost effective way for you to gain a unique insight into the thoughts and experiences of UK businesses. Whether you are looking to measure response to a recent marketing campaign or prepare for a new product launch add your questions to the next Omnibus by contacting a member of our Business and Enterprise team today!

Call: 020 7250 3035